Talk about heroes or heroines in real life. Met one such person today. Was delivering a session on “leadership” to an audience I was not much used to-Nurses at a reputed hospital, with an average experience range of about 20 years.
Had always known about this particular nurse called Alice “Sister”. I had met her sometime back and I was very impressed to even hear a portion of her story. Today, she shared her story with a larger audience and I thought it was important to share such stories with the world.
Ms Alice or Alice sister went to the Maldives-the islands for work. If I remember right, about 15 odd years back. And at that point in time, maternity was still handled in the traditional way at the islands, with grandmothers and the elderly in the household handling deliveries. Medical care was not available and approaching medicos for delivering babies was still an unknown concept. And quite naturally the infant mortality rate was more than 95%
After Ms Alice went, she handled almost all maternity cases from then on (the whole group of islands had only 3000 people then), so she would have atleast handled about a 1000 births in her tenure there. And quite obviously because of her prowess and her calm demeanour and ever approachable nature, she became a demi-God to the people in the island. For she was the one who “saved ” all their dying children.
Dedicated as she was, worshipped as she was, a crisis showed her where she really stood. It was 2004 December, the year of the Tsunami, she was as always attending to one of the mothers. She was lost at work, did not realise what was happening….when everyone in the hospital ran out, concerned about their own lives and obviously so. The mother she was attending to was also pulled to safety -but before she could find help the Tsunami struck, and the island being a small one, the water came right into the hospital upto the ceiling-and she had to hold on to the fan for dear life untit it subsided and went away….ALL ALONE at that.
She thus survived the Tsunami, but that evening when there was another delivery to attend to, she completely forgot about the distaster of the morning.
All the people in the island had lost their homes, bodies were discovered months later when swept to the shore…and meanwhile all the survivors were huddled in a common public school-everyone under one roof. They went without food for days, food packets arived but looked so unhygienic to the point she would skip eating most meals.
And after normalcy returned, she said she was given the President’s Award by the Maldives Government, a very rare honor for someone who survived all odds and helped the future of their little nation.
Sister Alice is considered a strict person, someone who adheres to all rules, and says she is disliked by many, back home, here in Chennai. But she says her work ethic was developed over years of struggle and she finds it difficult to change. She strongly believes that medical care as a field requires discipline and adherence to rules, for it involves lives.
Sister Alice loved it back in the Maldives despite all her struggles and her near loss of life. She is still a very humble, down to earth person-one look at her and you will trust your baby’s life with her. Shes a personification of kindness.
I went there to “deliver” a session but as I told them in the beginning, I was not an authority on the topic and I was going to learn ALONG with them.
Sometimes Providence places us in places and situations for all that we are supposed to learn-and today was one such day.
My humble respects and salutes to a lady so devout, she inspired me greatly, put back the spark in me to do my best (I need daily reinforcement) and made me see the world from a very different pair of eyes.
Hope she inspires you, who is reading this too.